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Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. As a teacher and promoter of science, he is remembered as a founding father of the American school of theoretical physics that gained world prominence in the 1930s. United States from Germany in 1888, and Ella Friedman, a painter. Julius came to America with no money, no baccalaureate studies, and no knowledge of the English language. He got a job in a textile company and within a decade was an executive with the company. His father had been a member of the Society for many years, serving on its board of trustees from 1907 to 1915. He completed the third and fourth grades in one year, and skipped half the eighth grade.
During his final year, he became interested in chemistry. To help him recover from the illness, his father enlisted the help of his English teacher Herbert Smith who took him to New Mexico, where Oppenheimer fell in love with horseback riding and the southwestern United States. Oppenheimer majored in chemistry, but Harvard required science students to also study history, literature, and philosophy or mathematics. In his first year, he was admitted to graduate standing in physics on the basis of independent study, which meant he was not required to take the basic classes and could enroll instead in advanced ones. Oppenheimer is in the second row, third from the left. Bridgman provided Oppenheimer with a recommendation, which conceded that Oppenheimer’s clumsiness in the laboratory made it apparent his forte was not experimental but rather theoretical physics.
Rutherford was unimpressed, but Oppenheimer went to Cambridge in the hope of landing another offer. Oppenheimer once confessed that he had left an apple doused with noxious chemicals on Blackett’s desk. While Ferguson’s account is the only detailed version of this event, Oppenheimer’s parents were alerted by the university authorities who considered placing him on probation, a fate prevented by his parents successfully lobbying the authorities. Many of his friends described him as having self-destructive tendencies. A disturbing event occurred when he took a vacation from his studies in Cambridge to meet up with his friend Francis Fergusson in Paris. Fergusson noticed that Oppenheimer was not well.
Oppenheimer did not take the news well. He jumped on Fergusson and tried to strangle him. Although Fergusson easily fended off the attack, the episode convinced him of Oppenheimer’s deep psychological troubles. I need physics more than friends”. Göttingen was one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical physics.